Still Life with Fish
Artist DetailsName: William Merritt Chase
Birth: 1849 Death: 1916
Artwork DetailsDate of Work: ca. 1903
Subject: Still Life
Period: 20th Century
Medium: oil on canvas
Dimensions: 25 5/8 x 30 1/4 inches
Credit: Gift of Anna Heyward Taylor
William Merritt Chase is remembered as both a painter and a distinguished teacher. After an inauspicious beginning in Indianapolis, then two years in New York, in 1872 Chase went to the Royal Academy in Munich. He settled in New York in 1878, and became an instructor at the Art Students League until he established the Chase School of Art in 1896. Chase’s paintings recall the old masters like Diego Velasquez and Frans Hals in their dark, earthy tonalities and impasto treatment. For Chase, the form and method were more important than the content.
Chase explained his interest in painting fish in the following way: “in the infinite variety of these creatures, the subtle and exquisitely colored tones of the flesh fresh from the water, the way their surfaces reflect light, I take the greatest pleasure.” This painting demonstrates Chase’s superb handling of texture and light. In addition to the juxtaposition of the fish in the foreground another of Chase’s favorite motifs – a brass vessel -on the right in the middle distance helps to balance the composition.